NEW YORK – Alex Ovechkin scored a goal, fired a game-high eight shots at Henrik Lundqvist and delivered a game-high eight hits. But it was a stick to the groin from Rangers defenseman Marc Staal early in the Capitals’ 5-2 loss to the Rangers that had people buzzing Tuesday night in Madison Square Garden.
“It's a hockey game, it's physical,” Ovechkin said after the loss. “Obviously, he don't want to get hit. If you want to hit, do it right way.”
Staal had a curious explanation of what certainly appeared to be an intentional jab to Ovechkin's groin area.
“I was just standing there,” Staal told reporters. “He skated, did his loop thing in the (neutral) zone, and I’m just holding my ice. I’m just standing there. He skated into my stick. I just didn’t move my stick. I could have, but I didn’t.”
Ovechkin set the tone early when he tossed Staal to the ice on his first shift to help set up his first of many scoring chances on the night. But Lundqvist shut the door, stopping 32 of the Caps’ 34 shots.
“Obviously, we make lots of mistakes and it cost us goals and we didn’t use our chances,” Ovechkin said.
The Capitals outshot the Rangers 14-2 in the second period, but the Rangers scored on both of their shots and carried a 4-2 lead into the third period.
“I’m pretty sure everybody enjoy how we played in the second, but two mistakes gave them a 4-1 lead and after that it was hard to bounce back,” Ovechkin said.
“We didn’t have any success in the crease but we still had many chances in the third. We had a breakaway, Willy missed an empty net. I didn’t score on a 2-on-1. ”